Did you know that squirrels are very intelligent creatures? They’ll often trick potential thieves by conducting fake burials of food, and will communicate with each other using their tails as a signalling device. But, for all that they’re cute and interesting, they’ll wreak havoc on a garden given half a chance!
Squirrels dig up bulbs, steal food and nuts from feeders and dine on the eggs in birds’ nests. So, what can you do if you want to stop them from helping themselves to whatever they want? Here are a few ways you can squirrel proof your garden.
First, buy a squirrel proof feeder
There are only two reasons squirrels will come to your garden: they’re looking for food or shelter. Of course, you can’t very well fell every tree or stop feeding your birds, but you can adapt your current approach so that the squirrels are deterred from visiting you so frequently.
Stop feeding birds using the ground and tables, and instead invest in a squirrel proof bird feeder. Squirrel proof feeders work by ‘baffling’ the squirrel, using shapes that squirrels have difficulty crossing and therefore they can’t access the food inside it.
Other feeders are enclosed by a type of mesh that is too fine for squirrels to get their claws into, and some feeders are weight-activated so that they shut when anything as heavy as a squirrel lands on it.
Decide which one to buy by thinking about what kind of birds you want to cater for in your garden, as this will determine which model of squirrel-proof bird feeder is right for you.
Add a sprinkling of chilli powder
Adding chilli powder is a trick suggested by the RSPB, so why not try thoroughly coating the bird feed in chilli powder before putting it outside? Birds don’t particularly mind the extra kick, but squirrels will quickly go elsewhere once you’ve set their taste buds tingling. You could also use curry powder, cayenne pepper or tabasco – whatever’s in your store cupboard.
Bloodmeal is blood from other animals that has been dried and ground into a powder, and you can buy it online or from garden centres. When sprinkled around your garden it will ward off squirrels and other unwanted visitors (such as rabbits or neighbourhood cats) as the smell of blood frightens them enough to steer clear of your back yard. However, remember that bloodmeal is a very potent fertiliser.
Cover your flowers and vegetable patch with chicken wire
In the same way you’re trying to keep birds out of your vegetable patch by adding a cage of wire over the top, do the same for squirrels. They’re crafty, so you’ll need to make sure the wire is sufficiently dense and that you weigh it down to the ground too – perhaps securing it with pegs to make sure they’re not able to burrow in.
Get a cat or a dog
Some people recommend getting a cat or a dog to help deter squirrels from your garden, and it’s likely to work if you’re happy to ward off lots of other types of wildlife at the same time. If squirrels are a real problem for you, it might be worth considering recruiting a four legged friend to help you out.
Finally, you could hang streamers, ribbons and balloons in your garden to scare away squirrels. In the same way that scarecrows deter birds from feasting in fields, objects that move in the wind will scare away squirrels: particularly if you draw a pair of eyes on to the balloons.